Holotropic & Shamanic Active Breath Work

5th November 2023

Holotropic and shamanic active breath work are similar techniques that can be used to help team members release issues or obstacles stunting them from their full potential at work.

Holotropic Breath Work

Holotropic breath work itself means moving toward wholeness and was developed in the 1970s by Dr. Grof and his wife in his work as a psychotherapist and transpersonal therapy inventor. Initially, Grof had used LSD as a psychotherapeutic tool. After the drug was made illegal, Grof sought new ways to help clients release trauma and bring about healing.

If you want to discover this technique, your best bet is to find a holotropic breath work therapist to guide you. For the most part, people use this method in a group or under the supervision and guidance of an experienced holotropic breath work instructor.

The technique itself is simple. You spend 1-2 hours breathing at accelerated speed using your stomach to forcefully exhale and inhale. Music enhances the process of entering an altered state of consciousness. In the course of your holotropic exercise, you can expect a variety of experiences such as outbursts of laughter, crying, muscle cramps, or visions. While some warn of possible health risks such as hyperventilation, others attest to the immense therapeutic benefits of holotropic breath work.

Shamanic Breath Work

Shamanic breath work is similar to holotropic breath work in that you spend at least 1hr breathing and often listen to music enhancing the process of entering an altered state of consciousness. However, you breathe in a circular motion either through the nose and out the nose or through the mouth and out the mouth. It is an active breath not a relaxed breath, meaning you are exhaling faster than you would if you were doing diaphragmatic breathing or extended exhaling.

Shamanic breathing can be done individually or in a group setting. In a group setting you lie on your backs and close your eyes. Normally you have a blanket over you as sometimes you get very cold from the energy leaving your body. It is possible to also feel very warm if you take the energy from the other people in the room. It all depends on your experience. In a group atmosphere there is always loud music, this aids in allowing you to disconnect from the other people in the room and enter into an altered state of consciousness. The breathing normally takes at least one hour.

During shamanic breath work there is almost always a purpose or intention for each session which the facilitator will ask you to impose at the beginning of the exercise. These intentions can be anything from fears, confidence, issues with a relationship, security anything emotional that is pushing you back from your true potential. After the intention is decided the participants needs to focus on their intention the entire time they are breathing until they release it. After releasing the main focus of the session, the clients can then go on to releasing anything else that comes to mind. Music can be used during the breath work and if performed 1 on 1 you can talk to the facilitator, and they will try to keep you focused on your breath. Sometimes the facilitator might even use Reiki to heal an area of the body that is causing you pain, but this is not mandatory.

Shamanic Breath Work with Silent Focus

During a retreat with Silent Focus, you can schedule a shamanic breath work technique for your employees. Heather Anderson is a breath work facilitator and will guide you through a 2hr experience that will change your idea of what breath work is all about. You can suggest that the team have one specific intention for the session or that everyone chooses their own intention for the breathing technique. For example, perhaps there has been a new take over at your company and there are some uncomfortable resolved feelings amongst your staff, you can set the intention of the breath work session on releasing these unresolved feelings, to feel lighter, happier, and more comfortable in the workplace.

The sessions are long and can be intense for some people with muscle spasms and strong senses of heat permeating from the body. We normally recommend scheduling this activity in the afternoon before dinner, so it gives time for participants to relax after the session and allows time to digest their food before breathing and lying down after lunch.

On longer corporate silent retreats shamanic breath work is an activity we greatly encourage businesses to add to their schedule. With our breath we heal our body, our memories and we open the gate to reprogram our mental patterns to eventually change our behaviour. Through our breath we become observers of our past to understand our present and adjust our vision to the future. Release memories and emotions, make peace with your past and unlock your true potential. It can be an intense experience. We don’t use substances of any kind such as, drugs, etc. The breath work may be intense for some people while other people may not be able to let go completely. Whatever the experience to the employee it is a great team building exercise that will bring the team members closer to understanding their behavior and enjoying the session as a group can really bring a positive connection to the team.

If you’d like to learn active breath work, then contact us today about our corporate silent retreats.